Renault electrifies popular mini city car
After three generations, Renault has sold nearly four million Twingos in 25 countries. Now the French auto maker is launching an all-electric version of the city runabout: the Twingo Z.E.
Renault has decent form in the electric vehicle arena, having the Twizy quadricycle, the ever-popular Zoe, the Kangoo Z.E. and the Master Z.E. in its ranks, along with the RSM SM3 Z.E. in South Korea and the City K-ZE in China. Like its internal combustion siblings, the Twingo Z.E. has been designed to be small on the outside and roomy on the inside.
The rear-wheel drive Z.E. is home to a water-cooled 22-kWh Li-ion battery pack developed with LG Chem, which is housed in floor-based aluminum crash boxes. This gives the little car a WLTP City cycle range per charge of 250 km (143 mi), or 180 km (102 mi) on the WLTP Full cycle, which Renault says could be enough to "zip around the city for a whole week" on a single charge. In Eco mode, drivers can expect around 215 km (125 mi) of mixed driving per charge.
Renault is also claiming that its Caméléon technology could top up the battery up to four times faster than others, thanks its ability to adapt to the power available from different charging stations. In real-world terms, that means connecting to a 22-kW charger for 30 minutes will offer 80 km (50 mi) of mixed journey range.
A 60-kW (82-hp) electric motor that's based on the latest Zoe produces 160 Nm of torque, and gets the Twingo from standstill to 50 km/h (31 mph) in four seconds, on its way to a top speed of 135 km/h (84 mph). Three levels of regen braking are on offer – from almost freewheel to significant deceleration while recharging the battery.
On the outside, the 3.61-meter-long, five-door, four-seat Z.E. looks similar to last year's engine-packing cars. The C-shaped LED headlights and sculpted bumper give it an almost cheeky face, while additional blue highlights to the front and sides of the body, and center of the wheels, and electric badging, confirm its EV identity. It's also reported to have the industry's best-in-class turning radius of 4.3 meters.
Moving inside, the driver and passenger are treated to a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display that offers access to Easy Connect services and cooked-in satellite navigation. And there's a smartphone app for continued connectivity while out and about. The roomy center console has been fitted with charging sockets for topping up mobile devices. Meanwhile weekly shopping trips are helped along by a 240-liter trunk capacity, or up to 980 liters with the rear bench seats folded down.
In keeping with new regulations, Renault has installed the Z.E. Voice system to alert pedestrians of oncoming electric Twingos. Three sound schemes are offered, with the noise rising in volume as the car gets faster but abruptly cutting out at 30 km/h (19 mph), when tire noise should be enough of a warning to those around.
The electric version of the Twingo looks every bit as practical for city running as its combustion-engined relatives. Will the "queen of the city" take any mini-EV crowns from the likes of Smart and VW upon release? We'll have to wait and see.